It was only a matter of time before Harry Styles presided over his own episode of Saturday Night Live, having stood out in numerous sketches over the years alongside such hosts as Jimmy Fallon, Sofia Vergara and Paul Rudd. So how did he measure up to previous musical guests-turned-emcees like Justin Timberlake and Chance the Rapper?
The former One Direction frontman seemed a bit nervous during his monologue and his first live sketch, but shook off those initial jitters by the time he was asked to play one-half of an Icelandic couple in a lamaze class. The material, however, wasn’t up to par with some recent episodes, including Chance’s October hosting stint. Even the “Days of Our Impeachment” cold open with Jon Hamm lacked a certain “pizzazz.”
BEST: JOAN SONG
The jangly toy piano set just the right tone for this heartwarming character piece, which was a terrific showcase for Aidy Bryant. It struck just the right balance of funny and sad as Joan detailed her platonic romance with dog-boyfriend Doug, played in part by Styles.
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BEST: THAT’S THE GAME
Chris Redd’s performance as a gang member in wayyyyy over his head (“Who’s the guy you would sell the drugs to? And what’s his number? And what’s a good time to call him?”) elevated this OK digital short, which felt more like a Key & Peele sketch than an SNL sketch.
BEST: FUNERAL DJs
This five-to-1 skit was a real crowdpleaser, and the one live sketch where Styles seemed completely committed to the material. He and Redd were a hoot, but it was the song transitions (e.g., R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts” into C+C Music Factory’s “Everybody Dance Now”) that put this one over the top.
HONORABLE MENTION: SCOOTER RINEHOLDT
Kyle Mooney’s Weekend Update characters have always been, to put it mildly, an acquired taste. And while Bruce Chandling was never my cup of tea, I mostly enjoyed his turn as a potentially suicidal dairy executive whose company recently filed for bankruptcy.
WORST: LUNCH RUN
The premise itself — an overeager intern offers to get Popeyes chicken sandwiches for the entire office — was amusing, but the jokes didn’t land as well as they could have, due in part to some rather stilted performances. The reveal that this was a scene from Disney+’s White Get Out would have been funnier had the sketch ever found its rhythm.
WORST: BABY FAYE AND HER NEWSBOYS
You’ve gotta hand it to Cecily Strong, who always shows up in the last half-hour and commits to the most absurd characters imaginable. Her interactions with Bryant, who played an elderly stage mom, were ridiculous but enjoyable. Otherwise, this was a total dud.
What were your favorite sketches this week? And what missed the mark? Watch all of the highlights (and lowlights) above, then grade the episode in our poll.